Tuesday, 9 June 2015

"Spanish Cedar" English Bitter or: How I learned to stop scrooging and love the homebrew store.

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that the beer turned out well. The bad news is that it turned out well for an English bitter. That is to say that there is no discernible spanish cedar flavor to speak of in this beer. Much like the spanish cedar IPA that I had just finished, this beer refused to accept any contribution from the wood. For this iteration, I had chopped the wood up more finely instead of cubing it, and increased the amount used by almost 2x. Here's the thing though, I was impatient and didn't let it age that long on the spanish cedar and here's why: Certain online threads have lead me to believe that the spanish cedar I acquired is not fresh enough for brewing. People who are using the same spirals as Cigar City Brewing report lots of flavor development within a week of aging it on a spiral (or even half a spiral!) whereas I'm using a f*cking wood chipper's worth to no avail.

Considering that the chunk of spanish cedar I bought was all of $4 CDN, I'm not at much of a loss in this situation. The only cost to me was the pain of disappointment! I will likely order a pack of the legit spanish cedar spirals for brewing from the internet so I can try again to replicate some awesome peppery IPA goodness. I want to try to make a quasi-clone of "The Matador" by flying monkeys brewing eventually.

The Tasty Disappointment

Appearance: Gold or burnt orange colour, slightly hazy, thick white head that stays ~1cm thick throughout the glass.

Aroma: Light fruit esters - orange/apple/pear. Hint of toast. Earthy hops that almost come off a bit funky or herbal.

Flavor: Assertive bitterness, earthy hops. Light caramel flavor. some toastiness. I can taste why people would say that target hops have a sage flavor to them. Not sweet, quite dry actually. Not much lingering flavor in this beer, but a lingering bitterness for sure. There is a characteristic flavor from the ESB yeast that I can't pinpoint, but it's a nice fruitiness.

Mouthfeel: Moderate carbonation off the pour. Moderate mouthfeel.

Overall: Good, but not great. I personally think this beer is a bit too bitter for what I was aiming for. It's better when it warms a bit, but I think the flavors were a bit faded. The fuggles hops I used were from the previous year, so they may be a bit faded. I just opened the bag of Target hops, so I'll be trying a Target bitter soon. I think I prefer the EKG hops in English ales. Also, I fermented this strain on the cool side where I think I prefer some unabashed esters from the ESB strain. 

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